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Heavy snow, dangerous cold snarl travel in NE US

Updated: 2014-01-03 09:37
( Agencies)

Heavy snow, dangerous cold snarl travel in NE US

Icicles on a window are seen in front of airplanes during a winter nor'easter snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts January 2, 2014. Officials with Boston's Logan International Airport said they expected airlines to scale back operations during the storm, with the last departure expected at roughly 8:30 pm ET (0130 GMT). [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK/BOSTON - The governors of New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency and urged residents to stay indoors as a major storm hit the northeastern United States on Thursday, bringing heavy snow and delaying or canceling thousands of flights.

The first major winter storm of 2014 brought dangerously low temperatures and strong winds from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic coast, with parts of New England including Boston bracing for as much as 14 inches (36 cm) of snow by Friday morning.

"As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Amid flight cancellations that hit just as many travelers were returning from holiday breaks, officials at Boston's Logan International Airport warned that takeoffs would likely end at about 8:30 pm (0130 GMT) and officials at New York area airports set up cots for potential stranded travelers.

The snowfall was expected to intensify after sunset, with the heaviest accumulation coming overnight. Some cities along the storm's southern edge expect only minimal snowfall.

Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both ordered state offices closed on Friday for non-essential employees, saying they expected the worst to hit between late Thursday and early Friday morning.

"The real action is going to get cranked up this evening and during the overnight hours. We'll have heavy snow, windy conditions, reduced visibilities," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.


The storm posed the first major challenge to the administration of New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio. Problems from digging out from snowstorms have been political havoc for mayors in the United States' biggest city for decades.

After his first emergency management meeting, De Blasio urged New Yorkers to get off the streets as soon as possible and let snow crews do their work.

"This is the first of many times I will say please stay indoors. Stay out of your cars. If you don't need to go out, please don't go out," he said.

The powerful storm forced about 1,807 US flights to be canceled and about 4,536 delayed, with Chicago's O'Hare International and Newark's Liberty International Airport the worst-affected airports, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks air travel.

New York's three major airports were preparing to accommodate stranded travelers whose flights were canceled.

"We have a few hundred cots at each of the airports should you decide to become an overnight guest," said Thomas Bosco, an official with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The authority also runs Newark and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

One traveler, 23-year-old Ruben Raskin of San Jose, California, who was in the area visiting his girlfriend, worried that his Friday flight out of Logan could be delayed or canceled.

"It kind of reminds me why I moved to San Jose after going to college out here," Raskin said.

Conditions in Boston were bad enough by afternoon that the "Frozen Fenway" winter carnival, featuring sledding and college ice-hockey at the baseball stadium where the Red Sox play, was canceled for Thursday and Friday.

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